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Czech Bitcoin ATM Maker General Bytes Ready to Ship Worldwide

(@southtopia) | Published on May 22, 2014 at 21:30 BST

Fresh from its product unveiling at Bitcoin2014 in Amsterdam, Czech bitcoin ATM company General Bytes is ready to begin shipping eye-catching orange bitcoin ‘BATMTwo’ machines across Europe and internationally.

The company has operated a prototype machine at the Brmlab Prague Hackerspace (‘BATMOne’) since February, and introduced another live machine at Cafe Caffeine (also in Prague) at the start of May.

A third machine is being tested at Slovakia for deployment in a major fast food outlet, and General Bytes is shipping a few machines to the Netherlands next week. The company says it currently has another 15 machines built and available for sale.

The BATMTwo models have an email option for customers without pre-existing wallets. The service creates a new address and supplies instructions how it can be accessed via email. This feature also means the machines do not require printers, saving on maintenance costs.

All machines can be setup and configured using General Bytes’ server software and web UI, supplied free with any machine purchased.

Compliance measures

The machines are one-way (ie: buy bitcoin only) at this stage and have a series of KYC/AML compliance features to satisfy local authorities where such things are required.

General Bytes’ owner Karel Kyovsky said current regulations within the EU limit operators to receiving a maximum €15,000 per month from a single individual.

Bitcoin2014

ATM owner/operators have the ability to set their own limits according to regulations or their own requirements using General Bytes’ backend configuration software, and the machines have fingerprint readers to register and identify individuals for large transactions.

For smaller transactions, fingerprints are not required.

“We are aware that customers don’t like to provide their fingerprints, but we believe that in future it might be the only way in some countries to operate the bitcoin ATM.

It is better to get ready now, before the state regulation hits the bitcoin ATM operators.”

To register, customers need to provide two fingerprints and show an ID document to the device’s camera, as well as provide an email address. Operators take responsibility for manually confirming the ID and entering the new customer’s details in a database using the web UI.

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Confirming new registrations takes up to 15 minutes, all of which might discourage spontaneous sign-ups, especially by bitcoin newcomers. General Bytes is negotiating with Jumio to integrate its BISON service and hopefully reduce that time to three minutes.

All the collected KYC data is stored on each BATM operator’s own server. Operators thus take responsibility for their own data security, and General Bytes does not have access to it.

Acquiring and setting up

Kyovsky said buyers can purchase any of the 15 available machines (as of 23rd May) and have it delivered within one week. If there are no machines in stock, there will be a 60 day lead time.

Shipping within the EU via UPS is around $40, to the US $150 and other countries up to $200.

Setting up a machine requires about one hour installation time and operators need enough skill to mount it to a wall.

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Installing and configuring the backend software takes about two hours, and operators will need to have pre-existing accounts with a bitcoin exchange.

For less technical operators there is the option to use General Bytes’ servers and have its staff maintain records, though it will cost a fee of 0.5% per transaction.

Refining the product

Kyovsky said the two machines currently operating in Prague had allowed General Bytes to improve its product.

“This gives us great insight into what it takes to operate that ATMs also from legal perspective and provides us feedback that we implement into new software releases.

We also use the machines as first place where we deploy new software versions before making them available to our customers.”

brmlab BATMTwo

The Hackerspace machine even helped General Bytes fix security holes. Hackers with mechanical access to the device discovered a way to send a few mBTC without cash, and were rewarded with a 1 BTC bounty.

Since then, there have been no further security breaches.

General Bytes plans to keep its machine installed at the Hackerspace, saying the alternative mindset there is a perfect match for bitcoin.

Article images courtesy General Bytes, featured image by Grace Caffyn.

ATMsCzech RepublicEuropeGeneral Bytes

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